Thursday, 26 January 2017

3 things I've learnt from writing real estate copy


I have a few suggestions; both for real estate agents, and for buyers and sellers, but we'll get to that.

I've written copy for hundreds of properties. It means that I walk in and visit between 15 and 30 properties a week. It can be even more during the busy seasons of Spring and late summer. Every day, after visiting all these properties, I have to sit down in front of my computer and come up with creative ways to present the benefits in a way that not only describes a property but also sells it to the right kind of buyer. What do I mean by that?


You only need one

Well, as any real estate agent knows, sure, you have to market a property broadly, but in the end each property only needs one buyer. In the end, all this marketing eventually comes down to one person, one individual who thinks "that's the kind of property I want."

Nudging you towards the property

I seem to be saying vague things here. I use the words "kind of" because an important distinction needs to be made between what the advertisement for a property does, and what the real estate agent does when there's a potential buyer in the property. Put simply, the written copy on the ad does not sell the property.

Instead, the purpose of the ad is to start the customer down the slippery slope towards a sale. If my ad causes an individual to decide to turn up to a home open, then the ad has been a complete success. This might sound like a cop out, and for a while I was a bit uneasy about thinking of it in these terms. But then I stopped and I thought about how you actually search for real estate; something I am personally in the process of doing right now for my family. When you go onto a listing site like realestate.com.au you're already a fairly motivated and interested consumer. You've already got and idea of the kind of property that you would like to rent buy or invest in. You've probably got an idea of the area if you're looking in, and some pretty firm opinions about price range and the basic features that a property requires. You may also be educated in the state of the market, and particularly in what you're looking for; how to spot quality etc.

You are a highly educated and motivated consumer; but there's a lot of property out there and you only have so much time. How do you decide?

The copy paints a lifestyle picture

You search for your basic requirements and you look at the photos and see if it's something you might like. You look at the floor plans to see if it'll work for you.  You look at the map to see if it's in the area that you want to live in and then you read the copy, because you might have missed something like a garden studio, attic storage; something that you can't see in the photo.

Then the copy will relate to you the feel of the property and lifestyle it could grant you. Which school zone it's in, other delights. These are the details that bring it home, that get you emotionally involved. This starts make you feel warm about living there. It begins to put you inside the property and make you imagine how it will make you feel. Think of this as the point at which a car dealer might say, "Hey, why don't you take it for a test drive?" If all of this resonates with you there's really only one more thing you need to do and that is going have a look at the property. So, assuming the agent makes that easy for you, the advertisement has now done it's work.

I said I had some advice. I do, but my real purpose in this post was to describe what a real estate ad is doing, and what it is not doing. It's not a plain description of the property, and yet that is in there. It's not a strong sales pitch, nor a novel, because no one has time for that. Instead, it is a quick picture of the place and how it would be to live there/own it.

What are the three things then?

Well:

1. It's not just a description.
2. There's actually a lot to it, and a lot to consider and include.
3. You need to remember standard sales copy principles, such as a hook, and call to action.

I guess I should also add that I am busy as the proverbial one-legged riverdancer right now, and it takes a lot of effort to get around and see properties (especially with big family homes, it's better to visit to get that personal feel and touch, but it's a nightmare on scheduling!)

For the buyers, allow yourself to get lost in the copy - if it resonates, go view the property. These things are written with what I might term, "exuberant honesty". It paints the property in a positive light. If you don't subsequently like it, well it's not the property for you. No loss but a bit of time, and you've made your way closer to the perfect property.

For sellers, demand the best. The copy, the photos, the floorplan, they all make a difference. A big difference.

For agents, get it right and the campaign should be a breeze. Take the time, or get some help, it's more cost effective than you might think. If you want great, effective copy on your property ads, drop us a line today.


Tuesday, 17 January 2017

When you read this, you will understand why

How do you choose a service? I know, it can be tough. Recently, I needed a new accountant for my company. So I decided to look for one. Just as you might do, I opened up a browser, typed "accountant" and my suburb into Google, and hit enter...

I expected the answer to be fairly easy, as my office is in a suburban business district rather than a capital city. There's at least 15 accountants within a few minutes of my office! Some are fairly big firms of accountants by the look of it. Given that I am pretty well-versed in all aspects of my business, including the accounts, I was not after a Wall Street level of service; rather someone who could review the accounts, manage the tax affairs, and provide advice on growth opportunities and such. In short, not a huge thing, but very important. So how did I choose?

Well, first up, I only had time to look at the ones with websites. I wanted to scan their services and see if they basically did what I needed, and if they looked like they might "fit" my company's needs. I hear you saying, "Well, what's new?". What I found on that first pass was enlightening from the perspective of small business marketing.

I knew that ultimately I would need to call the accountant, have a discussion, and likely follow that with a meeting where we poured over my company's books, plans, business strategies etc. I would talk, they would talk, I would then assess their suitability. But I wanted to at least get an idea about them first, and unfortunately I did not have any word-of-mouth recommendations. So the website was the first factor. And guess what?

Of the few that had working websites with more than simple contact details (and some didn't have websites at all) very few were easy to navigate, and even fewer had well written and useful information. In some ways, this made my job easy. In a matter of minutes, I had a short list. 15 plus accountancy practices down to three in a few minutes based on Google and the quality of their website and web copy. I made the calls.

Finally, I got chatting with two actual real live accountants (in different firms) who might actually be handling my books. Great discussions. Lively banter. Good advice (and free, at this stage). A very interesting thing resulted from this.

The accountant I ultimately chose, with whom I had a great chat and fantastic follow-up meeting, espoused a philosophy towards SME accounting and business planning that was both a) in-tune with my company and desires and b) exactly as described in the accountant's web copy. In other words, their web copy was a true reflection of their practice, and highly effective as a sales tool at the same time. Bravo on both counts!

What does this mean to you? Well, it's an example of the power of great copywriting (and clever web site design). I don't need to work on my accountant's website, it's already pretty good. But boy-oh-boy, there is a lot of work to be done out there. Truth be told, most businesses don't do copy well, especially when you consider that the majority of businesses are small to medium sized. If you run a business and your marketing copy is lacklustre, well I am telling you, it is costing you sales. It's 2017. The web is old news now. You need those sales! How long are you going to wait before you get on top of your copywriting needs?

It's not just web copy, it's all your marketing collateral. Good copywriting is your sales foundation. Drop us a line at Articul8 if you need assistance with your copywriting needs. We're here for you.

*PS. Hat-tip to my fabulous new accountant, AWC - Accountants Who Communicate. The name says it all really.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Is your property sales copy boring?

Because if it is, your sales might be flat too.
There’s no point in me sugar coating it. If the copy on your ads does nothing more than describe the property, then it does nothing to sell the property. You need to target your specific buyer market with your words.
You don’t need a simple property description; potential buyers can already see what it’s like from the professional photos (you do use professional photos, right?)
Good copywriting sells. What it does is connects vendors’ property with the buyers’ desires. It plants a story in their minds as to why they need this property; how they would live there; the lifestyle they might enjoy; or the easy investment returns they might make.
You want to inspire a potential buyer, so as to inspire faster sales and higher sale prices (and better commissions!)
Professional property photographs are essential these days, but without the words, they are a series of dots without connections. The words fill the gaps and tell the story. The copy gives them a reason to buy.
But you don’t need to toil away at this for hours! Incorporating top-notch sales copy into your marketing is easy: if you’ve got a property that needs powerful, persuasive copy, just drop me a line and I can do it for you, at reasonable rates and with a fast turnaround to make your job easy. Make your listings tell stories that leave buyers inspired!